Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Finals Food

College Munchies

I took a jelly roll pan and lined it with parchment paper.  Then I scattered a generous layer of pretzels on the paper.  In a glass microwavable bowl I broke chunks of almond bark and microwaved on high in 30 second bursts( stirring in between).  Be careful to avoid scorching the almond bark.  Once melted I poured it into a sandwich size resealable plastic bag.  I sealed the bag and then snipped a small corner section off.  See below.

Then came the fun part of drizzling the almond bark over the pretzels.  Once the almond bark is cooled you can break the pretzels apart and store in an airtight container.  Don"t they look good?

Our son is a college freshman and this time of year two things are happening-Christmas and college finals week.   The schools send around care packages that you can order but my son is a little bit of a picky eater.  Since  I am the creative type, I wanted to plan and prep my son's care package myself.  The recipe is easy just almond bark and pretzels. 


Apples!  Every fall I enjoy seeing the apples on the trees and making applesauce.  My oldest in particular loves applesauce.  I usually can it by the quart.  It smells wonderful as it is cooking down.  This year our, still fairly young trees, were laden with apples.  We ate several, I fed some to the animals and I tried a few other recipes.
One recipe was a football game snack. 
Ingredients:  Cream cheese, caramel sauce and toffee bits.  I found the toffee bits in the baking isle of the local grocery store.  I think any nuts would work if there were not any allergies to contend with.  It is made just as it looks.  I cut a couple apples into wedges (you could mix them with a little lemon juice to help prevent browning) and started dipping.  Yummy treat and very fast. 


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What Is It About Pyrex?

As most of you know, my oldest child went off to college this fall and we are all "growing" in this experience.  This post shares another milestone- one I did not expect.  

My son comes home for a visit from college and I am eager to prepare him for whatever may come his way and I ask, "Do you need anything for school?"  He mentions that the entire can of soup (that I have stocked his shelves with) does not all fit in one bowl and he would like bowls that he could use and not wash.  I mention that he has dish washing liquid,  the proper dish cloth and that washing is easy.  Well we settled on a pyrex bowl.  I stood staring at the shelf of pyrex containers trying to make a decision. I think the Target store employee thought I was a little crazy to require so much time to the task.  It made me a little misty to think this bowl may last him a long while.  I still have a mug that I bought during my college years to microwave my oatmeal on my cupboard.  My mug has lasted a long time 20 plus years at this point.  Pyrex containers have been a staple in my parents house and in mine and now I will be passing along the tradition.  The above picture is the chosen bowl.  It holds about a quart and will work well in the dorm microwave.  What is it about Pyrex?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Used Bookstores Are Full of Treasures!

My family lives in a small town.  We are also avid readers.  We also enjoy a wide variety of hobbies from gardening, cooking, amature radio and rocketry.  Well a couple of weeks ago we were out of town and found ourselves in Half Price Books- a bookstore that has a little of everythinghttps://www.hpb.com/.  As I looked from knitting and sewing books, through the romance section I finally landed in the cookbook section.  Now I love a good cookbook -it can be baking, canning, crockpot recipes and on.  After checking out the collection I settled on a cookbook for my daughter.  Her first cookbook mind you.  It met all the right criteria- lots of color pictures of the recipes and as I flipped through I noticed many recipes that would fit our tastes.  The cookbook that made it home is The Taste of Home Cookbook All New Editionhttp://www.hpbmarketplace.com/Taste-of-Home-Cookbook-3rd-Edition-Best-Loved-Classics-and-All-New-Favorites-Bonus-Chapter-30-Minute-Light-Recipes-Taste-of-Home-Magazine/book/28926813?matches=25.
My daughter has been taking more of an interest in baking and cooking this summer and since I have a cookbook collection shouldn't she start one?  The first recipe she wanted to make is chocolate ganache tarts.  This recipe is out of the cookbook from Lorraine Caland
Ingredients:  1/2 cup softened butter
3 ounces cream cheese softened
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
whipped cream, fresh raspberries, and confectioners' sugar optional
1.   In a small bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth; beat in flour.  Drop dough by scant tablespoons full into greased mini muffin cups; with well floured hands , press dough onto bottoms and up sides of cups.
2.  Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
3.  In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips with cream over low heat; stir until blended.  Transfer to a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until firm.
4.  Beat chocolate mixture until soft peaks form.  Pipe or spoon into shells.  Garnish with whipped cream, raspberries and confectioners' sugar if desired.
My daughter's creation is pictured above.  They were delicious!
All in all if you are out and about I encourage you to go into a bookstore near you and flip open the cover on some books!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Moving Onward and Upward

Well it has been quite a summer!  I have posted a variety of pictures of our happenings.  They chart how I as a parent and my oldest are growing and moving forward. 

This top picture is on college move in day in August.  Our son is happily ringing the victory bell to indicate he is ready for college, more responsibility and we are to turn the reigns over (at least mostly) to him.  That day was not filled with tears on our part as our son was so excited-how could you be sad?  At this time he has had a week of classes, auditioned for choir and has started the rigors of college homework.

This picture was taken in our yard where we were munching on s'mores.  We were hoping to keep the mosquitoes at bay.  Much fun was had even if we were a little itchy later.  This summer meant looser rules, no homework and slowly saying goodbye to friends that were taking their next step whether it is in the military, employment or off to school. 

Graduation!  A day filled with emotion.  What a wonderful young man!

 This picture was taken just a couple days ago as my husband and I visited our son at college to bring up a few things forgotten in the initial move.  He seems to be thriving.  I try not to ask too many questions but continue to guide from my armchair.  Looking forward to seeing where the next steps will lead us...to be continued.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May Is Here

For those of you that have had a very long and rough winter, this post is for you.  This last winter started out early in mid November with January-like temps and lots of wind.  I was thinking, Can I tough out the long winter when it starts sooo early?  It did get a little better in the Midwest in December but alas back in the freezer for January to mid March.  
I ended up having a surprise surgery that kept me home bound unable to drive, lift and at times walking was difficult.  I was hard to get along with and grouchy.  I was not able to participate in the usual fun seasonal activities and even omitted putting up a Christmas tree.  By mid January I had found a bit of a routine at home with television shows, You Tube, rented movies, podcasts and knitting.  
By the time I was due to arrive back to full time employment I missed my coworkers terribly and the patients that I knew so well. When there were three days left I started to get nervous.  I am not a person that adjusts well to change, even if the change is an idea of mine.  I had almost adjusted to being home and now I was heading back to join my life.  
At home here we did have weeks of cold weather that did not let up as usual toward the end of February.  The cold kept on through mid March.  There were many parts of the country that had bad weather-down in the Southern US there were cold temps, some snow and bouts of paralyzing ice.
 Out in the Eastern US there were feet of snow that fell.  It seemed every few days they had another  eight or more inches of snow.  
Through this entire time I thought about gardening and warmer weather.  I looked at the seed catalogs, made lists and lots of plans.  I made sketches of the garden beds and what we could grow.  I watched videos on container gardening and hydroponics.  I looked forward to crocus bulbs of spring and then to the tulips that would arrive.  
About this time every year there is a local festival- yes a tulip festival.  Some years the tulips have been early and some years they are late.  This year they are right on.  At about the same time the asparagus in our garden is ready to be picked.  Today I went out and the above picture is my proof that those long dark days are over and the better weather is here to stay awhile.
So for all of the people that have been yearning for better weather, hats off to you, and may you find your patch of asparagus.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

This recipe is from one of my favorite cooks Martha Stewarthttp://www.marthastewart.com/331754/pumpkin-doughnut-muffins/

These are a wonderful snack or a great addition to your morning tea or cup of coffee.  10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/3 cup buttermilk- although I used regular milk
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs

For sugar coating
3/4 cup granulated sugar or a little more
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter melted

Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Spray pan with baking spray or butter and flour 12 standard muffin cups. 
To make batter whisk flour, baking powder and soda, salt, nutmeg and allspice.  In a separate smaller bowl with electric mixer beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.   Beat in eggs one at a time.  With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two addition of pumpkin puree.

Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup.  Bake 30 minutes.  Meanwhile in another bowl combine granulated sugar and cinnamon.  Once muffins are out of oven cool 10 minutes.  Remove from muffin pans, brush with butter and toss to coat in sugar mixture. 
You are really in for a treat!  Thanks Martha!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Really Good Carrot Cake

I was given a recipe over 20 years ago for carrot cake.  At the time I was in grad school and was not doing a lot of baking.  I have kept the recipe all this time, and once a year it is pulled out and baked for my dear ole dad.  This is not the cheapest cake.  This cake does take a little more time to prep, bake and frost.  However, this is likely to be the best carrot cake you will ever (and I mean ever) make. 

 It goes like this:

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda

Mix above ingredients together and stir in:
1 1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
20 ounce can of diced pineapple with juice
2 tsp. vanilla

Then fold in 2 cups shredded coconut
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup chopped nuts ( I have used walnuts and pecans)

Then bake in a 350 degree oven 45 minutes-60 minutes for a 9 in by 13 in cake.  Be sure to test center of cake for doneness.  

Once cooled make frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese softened
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tsp. vanilla
 Mix together and gradually add
1 pound of powdered sugar
Beat until smooth.  Keep refrigerated.

I like to enjoy with a hot cup of tea or a cold glass of milk.  Enjoy with friends and family.